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Thread: Dive friends orientation and tank exchange

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Long Island,New York
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    228

    Default Dive friends orientation and tank exchange

    Hello,
    We will be using dive friends this year and are returning yearly guests on bonaire. Thus is the first year we are staying at a private home. Can anyone tell me how are they on their orientation( quick or long) and how do they do tank exchanges? Do you need to sign out each tank? How do you get tanks for night dives( last minute)? How many ranks do they let you take at one time? I understand they they have numerous places around they island, but my husband and I like to take the tanks for the day without worrying coming back( park or southern sites).
    thank you

  2. #2
    wwguy's Avatar
    wwguy is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Not sure what you mean about "quick or long" orientation. You'll get a typical overview of marine park rules and orientation to DFB operations, which will pretty much answer all of the questions you've asked here. You seem to be someone who asks a lot of questions so you can probably expect a longer than average orientation. (No offense intended.)

    Tank exchange is pretty straightforward. Pick your own tanks from the pile, verify the fill pressure with the provided gauge, check the O2 level if using EAN, self-sign for the numbered tank(s) on the provided clipboard, and load them in your truck. Empties are dropped off whenever you return for more full tanks. Tanks can be picked up anytime the dive shops are open. Operating hours for each shop are posted at the shops and on the DFB website. There's no after-hours service, so you'll need to get tanks for night dives before the shops close. You can get tanks from any of the 5 DFB locations. They discourage taking more than 2 tanks per diver at a time during the high season because they don't have enough tanks for everyone to have 3 or 4 tanks out at a time. But they'll let you take extras for special circumstances, such as trip to the park etc.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    147

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    Oh my gosh! I so understand your question about orientations. I got trapped in one that went for almost 2 hours because they held us captive to all of the sales pitches as well as the orientation. Fortunately, it was NOT at Dive Friends. Unfortunately, I have not used Dive Friends so cannot comment on their orientation. I have dove/dived (you pick the verb tense) with others who do use them and I can say that tanks were easy. We pulled up, they got the tanks, I loaded them in the truck while they marked something on a clipboard. I don't know the specifics, but the ease of picking up and dropping off seemed pretty good.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Posts
    108

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    Good answers so far. We have done our diving with DFB the last few times we've been there. We sign in at the Yellow Submarine location. If you have been to the island recently, the orientation is likely to be pretty short and sweet. If not, they may require you to watch a video, but it's pretty short. You fill out the ubiquitous waiver forms, show them your cert cards and they give you a walk around to show you where everything is. They will likely ask you to do a checkout dive, or at the very least a weight check with them watching you. We usually just combine that with a first dive, since the dive off the Yellow Sub shop is a good one. To get tanks, you roll up to one of the shops, test your tanks for air pressure and nitrox (if you use it), sign them out (tank number, pressure, %O2, name, the shop you registered at) on a clipboard, load them up, and off you go. They have a strong preference for 2 tanks per person at any one time, though they've never been nasty about it. Admittedly, we normally hedge and take 5 for the two of us (for a two-dive truck trip) in case there is an O-ring problem or something, especially if we are planning to go all the way north or south. They have locations on "both" sides of the island so you can swap tanks at multiple locations, making it easier to get by with two-dives' worth. Like wwguy said, if you are going to the park for three dives, by all means take what you need for the day, but please don't be one of those annoying people who loads up twelve tanks for two people "just in case" and so you don't have to go back for three days (don't laugh, I've seen it). The rest of us want to dive, too! You can't get tanks (or gear locked in their storage rooms) after hours but for night dives, but you can get your tanks before closing and return them later or use one of their night lockers.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Citrus Heights CA
    Posts
    652

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    At DFB Yellow Sub we did a weight check while someone watched from the dock.
    At DFB Hamlet we told them we were going to dive "The Cliff" and off we went with no other issues.
    At DFB at the airport the last two years we got our weights, a few tanks and told them we were going to do our checkout at our LBR condo.
    No problems at all and no orientation to speak of.
    I remember mentioning we were going to get our silver ambassador medal...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    33

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    If diving with Dive Friends and you want to speed up the check-in you cand download the form and complete it ahead of time and bring it with you. Here is the URL:
    http://www.dive-friends-bonaire.com/...esscheckin.pdf

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    17

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    We worked with DFB last summer and Yellow Sub had a process for night dives and getting tanks after hours. A little advance planning was required but it was worth it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Annapolis, Maryland and Santa Barbara, Bonaire
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    Dive Friends is the best. We have used them for 2 weeks each year since 2008. We use Hamlet Oasis as we rent a house to the north. Once we get our car and unpack we race to get our gear ready. We get to Hamlet before 4:30 to get our tags and do out check dive. We preprint their form like MikeP said and that saves time. We are normally blowing bubbles before 4:45pm on the day we arrive. We also get a couple additional tanks for Sunday morning dives. Last year it didn't work out as well. Elvis went back to Holland and the new people were unwilling to accommodate us because we arrived only 5-10 minutes before they were to close. Elvis used to bend over backwards to make customers happy. In return I went overboard with the tip. The new crew was no where near as accommodating. They said we should go to the Yellow Sub because they were open longer. I wasn't happy to start our two weeks this way as they were a bit surly. The funny thing was while we were at the Yellow Sub they rolled in and all of the sudden their tone had changed. They tried to be much more friendly because Carolyn was there. Regardless to say, I didn't give them a dime when we left. It also cost Dive Friends business as we always would stop in and buy drinks and stuff from Elvis because he was an affable guy. One year my wife's Suunto Cobra 2 malfunctioned. Elvis tried to help but said it didn't seem repairable. He arranged to get a Cobra 3 for me to buy. It cost a lot more there than it did in the U.S. but he was helpful so I ponied up. He loaned her a rental for a day until the new one could be picked up. The next day he set it up and she was good to go. This year my Cobra 2 crashed on the second dive. My depths were bouncing back and forth between 5 feet and 530 feet, all while we were around 40 feet. The PSI started reading 0 even though we were only 5 minutes in. Instead of going to Dive Friends I went to Bruce Bowker. I got a Cobra 3 for less than I could in the U.S. Rude, surly and unaccommodating was a poor business strategy. Anyway, we will still use Dive Friends because of the convenience and most of their staff is top notch.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    14

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    Hi michaeto, sounds like you have adopted a good system to get into the water quickly and you are so right, Elvis really is an affable guy....sh, don't ever let him know that it will go straight to his head, OK, I might be able to say that since he is a good friend of mine. I'm sorry to hear about your experience at the Hamlet location with DiveFriends. Firstly I should mention that I do not work for DiveFriends but I am in the dive business so I gain nothing from posting this.

    What may not have been known and led to your most unfortunate situation is that the staff, at Divefriends Hamlet location, are to lock down the shop at 4:30 so that they can be in attendance at the Yellow Sub location for a daily meeting. At this meeting, as I understand, among many other things they discuss the highlights of the day respecting each of the locations. This meeting, one where Carolyn would no doubt be in attendance for, have these meetings to ensure that daily needs are being made and how to improve upon their business practices. Unlike some of the other locations, the staff at this location are also charged with the responsibility of locking up the north gate leading into the community. If you arrived at 4:30, then it would not be possible to ensure that your check out dive went smoothly., the staff would have had to be onsite to make sure that you had enough lead, for example. The staff' suggestion, to go to Yellow Sub,may have also been so that you did not feel rushed before your dive, which is never a good thing. Great to hear that your dive computer issues were resolved but you really need to stop diving to 530 feet, LOL And yes, Bruce always does good with any gear issues that I cannot resolve, usually parts. Even as reg tech, I can't get the parts online and then onto island for what he sells them for.
    Again, I don't work for Divefriends, but hopefully this might help if there were any misunderstandings. Trusting you had some great dives combined with some great memories. See you at the bottom, but hey not at 530 feet - way too deep for me

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